PROFILE { Izaskun Chinchilla Architects }

The first time I saw Izaskun Chinchilla she was hurrying along the corridors of the University of Alicante, trying not to be late to the class she was to give. She wore a white blouse with a certain baroque air, a mid knee-length flounced skirt and a pair of shiny green boots. Notwithstanding her eye-catching appearance, Chinchilla is actually one of the most innovative and promising architects in Spain today and also one of the most polemical. As an architect, Chinchilla is committed to professional innovation and a multi-disciplinary approach to designing, which may help to explain why she has yet to build anything, as public and private investors are wary about this kind of architecture.

In 2001, immediately after completing her architectural studies in Madrid with a wonderful final project and an excellent mark, she established her studio in that city and embarked upon her three-fold career of architectural practice, teaching and research.

In her architectural practice she has focused on architecture design competitions, collaborations with other studios and working on private commissions. Her teaching career has included lecturing at various architecture schools in Spain, leading workshop teams and giving lectures abroad. And finally, in her research work she focuses on ecology, sociology and contemporary lifestyle, applying her findings to her architectural and teaching practice.

Chinchilla is part of a new generation of talented young architects produced by the Madrid architecture academy. Together they invaded the Spanish architecture scene, reinvigorating it with their new approach to architecture and putting Spanish architecture in the spotlight all over Europe.

Other practices spawned by this generation are Andrés Jaque, Ecosistema Urbano and AMID/Cero9. Chinchilla, who is one of the few Spanish women architects running her own studio, fervently defends the position of women in architecture.

Although most of her projects are inspired by everyday life, some have had more unusual sources of inspiration and along the way she has become something of an expert on Chinese ceramics, carnivorous plants, crochet work, recycled paper and many other subjects thrown up by particular projects. Chinchilla instinctively chooses projects that enable her to learn something new and her body of work contains a large number of projects that are not directly related to architecture. As well as planning a housing development, she has designed a collection of brooches, organized symposiums and designed exhibitions. Like Charles and Ray Eames, she believes that 'everything is architecture'.

...........................................................................................© Izaskun Chinchilla Architects

Spanish Pavillion for 2010 Shanghai World Expo (2007)

This design for the pavilion to represent Spain at the 2010 Shanghai World Expo won second prize. It consists of six juxtaposed bands of representative Spanish landscapes, which are penetrated by six structures exploring regional values associated with building typologies. The design presents typical landscapes and buildings as Spain's real icons, ironically juxtaposed with that stereotypical icon, the black bull billboard.

..........................................................................................................© David Frutos

Formica Stand for SICI Fair (2007)

The task was to design two stands of 70 m2 and 30 m2 respectively. In addition to displaying its new range of products, Formica also wanted the stands to present a new look for the brand as a whole. The stands proposed a new way of thinking about kitchen furnishings, a luxurious kitchen derived from nature.

..........................................................................................................© David Frutos

A House for Estela and Cesar, Pueblo Nuevo, Madrid (2007)

This time Izaskun Chinchilla worked as both architect and interior designer for a client who wanted personalized rooms with lots of places for storing books and records. The project involved refurbishing a small flat (95 m2) in a new district of Madrid. Non-bearing walls were demolished and repositioned so as to optimize the limited space. The layout is organized around a diaphanous central space of about 33 m2, which is both the sitting room and a distributor for the other rooms in the flat. One of the challenges of the project was to hide the building services but leave them easily accessible for maintenance and repairs.

...........................................................................................© Izaskun Chinchilla Architects

State-subsidized Housing in San Francisco Javier St., Madrid (2008)

This competition design for state-subsidized housing won an honourable mention. The project attempts to marry the various demands of orientation, sunlighting, plot density and cross-ventilation with the general criteria of sustainability. The result is a complex building with six different sustainable building typologies and an open block that gives the city a new public space.

January 2009
Article published on A10 magazine #25 . Link here